With many Christians still smoking, the need for setting forth available evidence in hope of saving some from this body destroying habit still exists. The need is doubly noted when one considers the effect by example that smoking has on teenagers. According to "The Time to Stop Cigarette Smoking is Now!" Pamphlet which is published by the American Cancer Society, 29 percent of the boys smoke when neither parent smokes. However, when one of the parents smokes, that figure is raised to 37 percent, and when both parents smoke the figure jumps to 44 percent. For girls, the statistics show that those smoking are 16 percent, 29 percent, and 37 percent respectively for the same groupings. Thus, the need that Jesus taught for living an exemplary life is shown once again (Matt. 5:13; Phil. 2:15).
Facts About Smoking
To note some of the facts about smoking before pointing out the damage that it can do might be relevant at this point.
"Nearly 70 million people in the United States consume tobacco regularly. Cigarette consumption has increased markedly since the turn of the century, when per capita consumption was less than 50 cigarettes a year. Since 1910, when cigarette consumption per person (15 years and older) was 138, it rose to 1,365 in 1930, to 1,828 in 1940, to 3,322 in 1950, and to $ peak of 3,986 in 1961. The 1955 Current Population Survey shows that 68 percent of the female population and 32.4 percent of the female population 18 years of age and over were regular smokers of cigarettes" (Smoking and Health, Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, p. 26).
"Last year, 453 billion cigarettes were sold in the l U.S., nearly 4 percent more than in 1958--itself a record until 1959 topped it" (Parents Magazine, "The Facts on Teenage Smoking", Oct. 1960). (These were latest figures that I had available. MW)
"It is estimated that there are five million two-packs-s-day smokers in the U.S. -- about four percent of the adult population" (Answering the Most-often-Asked Questions about . . . Cigarette Smoking and Lung Cancer, question 40).
The money expended on cigarettes constitutes a phenomenal figure. "Americans spend more than $8 billion on tobacco products each year" (Answering the Most-often-Asked questions about . . . Cigarette Smoking and Lung Cancer, question 43). If a person smokes a pack of cigarettes each day for a year, he has burned around $150 that year on cigarettes. That figure becomes more vitally important when it is noted that many Christians fail to give that much money to the Lord in the same period of time.
Cigarettes and Lung Cancer
That scientists have established that smoking and lung cancer are causally related, there can be no doubt.
"We are therefore left with the hypothesis that habitual smoking over many years is a cause, in the ordinary sense of lung cancer. It is important to recognize that the hypothesis is not that cigarette smoking is the only cause of lung cancer." (Smoking and Health, p. 25)
"Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men . . . The risk of developing lung cancer increases with duration of smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and is diminished by discounting . . . It is estimated that about 75 per cent of lung cancer is caused by smoking" (Answering the Most-often-Asked Questions about... Cigarette Smoking and Lung Cancer, question 1).
Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men..." (Smoking and Health, Report to the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, p. 31)
Since the Bible tells us that our body belongs to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Rom. 12:1-2) and that we should not destroy God's temple, smoking becomes sin precisely at this point -- it is destructive to ones body!
It is interesting to note how lung cancer is produced. On the lining of the bronchial robes are located small whip-like hairs called cilia. The cilia throw a mucus substance from the lung toward the throat where it is expectorated. The mucus substance contains all the foreign particles that have been inhaled. It is here that cigarette smoking attacks. The impurities in smoking are too numerous for the cilia to handle. As a result the "trash" begins to build up in the lung until the cilia are destroyed and cellular changes occur that finally culminate in cancer of the lung.
Some might have wondered why scientists advise cigarette smokers to smoke cigars or pipes/f they smoke at all (the first recommendation is total abstinence from smoking). The reason is that few people inhale cigar and pipe smoke as they do cigarette smoke. The same impurities are present, but not as many enter the lung because they are not inhaled.
The trend in death rates caused by lung cancer is startling. While death rates from all other causes have decreased and all death rates froth cancer other than lung cancer has only slightly risen, lung cancer death rates have increased ten-fold (almost epidemic proportions).
Though the number of people having lung cancer has increased, "the cure rate remains unchanged--5 per cent or less" (Cigarettes and Health, Pat McGrady, p. 3)
Though no one has established that cigarette smoking and heart disease are causally related, "it is established that male cigarette smokers have a higher death rate from coronary artery disease than non-smoking males" (Smoking and Health, p. 32).
"Since coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death among men in the U.S. today, it is not surprising that we found it to be the leading cause of death among nonsmokers as well as among cigarette smokers. But the rate was 70 per cent higher among cigarette smokers" (The Effects of Smoking, E. Cuyler Hammong, p. 7).
Thus it is established that cigarette smoking increases the danger of fatal heart attacks.
Not only does cigarette smoking effect heart disease and lung cancer, "cigarette smoking is the most important of the causes of chronic bronchitis in the United States, and increases the risk of dying from chronic bronchitis and emphysema" (Smoking and Health, p. 31).
Not a Gamble
"Cigarette Smoking is not a gamble. Every smoker is injured, though not to the same degree. Smoking kills some, makes others severely and chronically ill, gives smokers far more than their share of illness and loss of work days" (Smoke Cigarettes? Why?)
Thus, the old comparison of smoking to Russian roulette is invalid. Rather than having a revolver which is partially loaded pointed at the head while pulling the trigger, the smoker has a revolver completely loaded but with different sized shells. One shell might be nothing more than a B.B. while the next might be a shell from a 30-30 Winchester. But at any rate, some damage will be done.
Reasons for Smoking
Why would a person want to smoke in face of these facts? Each person will probably give a different answer, but here are some of the more common answers:
a. "it settles my nerves." This is probably true but let us understand what causes the unsettled nerves. "Habitual smokers become used to the effects of smoking. Hence smoking relieves the tensions that the absence of smoking creates in them" (Answering the Most-Often-Asked Questions' about Cigarettes and Lung Cancer, question 26).
b. "it makes me one of the crowd." This is the answer that many teenagers give for smoking for it does make them one of the crowd -- but which crowd? Each individual must realize that at times his service to God involves separation from the crowd (John 12:42, 43; Gal. 1:10).
c. "It makes me appear grown up." Smoking had better make the person appear grown up in a hurry. "The average heavy smoker (two or more packs a day) smokes about three-quarters of a million cigarettes during his life-time. As a result, he loses about 4.4 million minutes (8.3 years) of life compared with nonsmokers. This amounts to a loss of almost six minutes per cigarette smoked: a minute of life for a minute of smoking" (If You Want to Give up Cigarettes).
Though many reasons are given, none has been found that will be able to stand the test in the Day of Judgment. Now we will notice some things that can be scripturally brought against smoking.
Charges Against Smoking
1. Smoking harms the body. That smoking does harm the body cannot be denied in light of today's evidence. That things which harm the body are sinful, there can be no doubt (1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Rom. 12:1-2).
2. Smoking enslaves its users (2 Pet. 2:19; 1 Cor. 6:12). The enslaving power of smoking is seen by the fact that many of its users have tried unsuccessfully to quit. I can see no difference in a person being enslaved to marijuana and a person being enslaved to tobacco
3. Smoking is a stumbling block to others (Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 8:12, 13; 10:32). Many people begin to smoke because they saw another Christian "light up." Thus one must say that smoking is sinful because it sets the wrong example (Matt. 5: 13-16; Phil. 2:15) and thus becomes a stumbling-block. If you disbelieve this, try to teach a Seventh Day Adventist with a cigarette in your hand.
4. It is a waste of money. We are taught that we are stewards of all that God has given to us (1 Cor. 4:1-2). To waste one's money is an abuse of the trust of stewardship.
5. Smoking tramples on the rights of others. Nonsmokers are forced to breathe stinking air. Not only that, but it also makes it more difficult for those who do not want their children to smoke to be able to teach them that smoking is sinful.
Elders, deacons, and parents, in light of this evidence, we beg of you to lay the smoking habit aside and become an example to your children in fighting this body destroying and soul defiling habit.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 47, pp. 8-10
October 8, 1970